Blogging the Yankees - A Sox perspective
It really is difficult to know what to make of these Yankees - they still have a $200 million roster, that looks like a $200 million roster on paper, but the reality is such that you have to wonder whether this team is playing to its actual talent level.
Before the season started there were a significant number of question marks - the rotation being the main one, but also the lack of depth on the bench, and the potential for a team of 30+ year olds to start getting old at the same time. But did any of us, even the most rabid Sox fan really think that so many things could go wrong so quickly?
If you look at the hitting side - the Yankees were once again predicted to become the team that broke the 1,000 runs barrier, and yet here we are on Memorial Day with the team 6 games under .500 - should the hitting take a good share of the blame for the status of the Yankees? Well the team has scored 254 runs, good for 5th in the majors, and has put up a .275 BA / .353 OBP / .431 SLG, good for 5th / 4th / 11th ranking - at the current pace of 5.3 runs a game, this offense would rank no worse than 6th over the last 5 years, more than good enough to take the team to the play-offs. How does that deserve any of the blame?
I would imagine Yankee fans are not giving the hitting side a pass is the uneven distribution between players - if it weren't for A-Rod's start to the year, for Jeter's continued excellence and for Posada's surely unsustainable start... where might they be? Looking at the opening day 9 that posted 9 runs against Tampa, and comparing 2007 BA / OBP / SLG with career numbers, we can see that Damon (-15 / +15 / -122), Abreu (-67 / -89 / -203) and Giambi (-36 / -31 / -100), have really been hurting the team against their career numbers, particularly given their limited ability to help on the D. Now is this simply reflective of the fact that we are only 48 games into a 162 game season, or a sign that these 3 players have entered a marked downside in their careers?
On the pitching side... where to start? The team has clearly been unlucky - with injuries to established players and rookies alike, but you also need to ask whether or not some of the under performance could have been predicted. Pavano was always an injury risk, Igawa was always a performance risk, and Mussina, I would argue, was clearly at risk of both injury and performance - yet these three players were expected to provide 60% of the innings this year. While Mussina is likely to provide the innings, Pavano is done for 2007 and 2008 and Igawa has gone from Saturday afternoon hero in the Bronx to cold story in less than a month.
While Clemens can reasonably be expected to provide stable innings, the other miscalculations have led to an accelerated timetable for Phil Hughes. This may not in itself be a bad thing, but it may heighten the risk of him not developing into the pitcher projections have him as (not the injury, but the lack of development time in the minors).
One ray of hope - since 2002, there has only been one year in which the Red Sox did not have an advantage at this stage of the season - that ray is pretty dim given the largest advantage the Sox had held at this stage of the season was 2 games. Does that ray start to get brighter though when you consider that in 2006, between this date and the end of the season, the Yankees pulled out 13 games on the Red Sox...
How many games back are the Yankees right now?